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Learning a foreign language is a great way to enhance your career prospects. When it comes to foreign languages, German is one of the most important ones you can learn as it is one of the ten most commonly spoken languages in the world. It’s also the second most spoken native language in the European Union. It is an official language in countries like Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and parts of Switzerland. Those aspiring to move to Germany for studies, work or residency have to pass any of the several German language exams.
Why Do You Need German Language Exam?
Taking an official German level exam and getting the consequent certificate will be a great asset in your CV. Moreover, German certificates and examinations play an important role not only in your professional life but also helps build your future.
You will be required to prove German language proficiency through these exams, if you are planning to study at a German university or institution
Nowadays employers are looking for multi linguistic talents for their companies. Hence learning a foreign language like German will improve your chances of building a strong career path.
Migrating to Germany
If you are planning to migrate to Germany, it is important to be proficient in the native language.
The choice of German language examinations available is quite wide and which one is the right for you depends on the level, your ultimate objective and the school you plan to apply to. The most widely recognized German exams are the DSH, the TestDaF and the Goethe Institut examinations, which cover all CEFR levels, from A1 to C2.
German Language Proficiency Levels
The German proficiency test is an international standardized test that assesses German proficiency whose native language is not German. You can prove your proficiency by taking a language proficiency test like Zertifikat Deutsch, TestDaF, DSH, TELC, ÖSD, and ÖIF. All these certifications follow the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR is an international standard for describing language ability. It assesses language learners on their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, using a six-point scale:
Level A (Basic User)
This is the basic level required for most people seeking a visa or residence permit in Germany, especially those who are moving to Germany for family purposes. It is split into A1 (Beginner) and A2 (Elementary). It usually takes between 60 and 200 hours of guided study (classes and homework) to achieve.
Level B (Independent User)
This is divided into B1 (Intermediate) and B2 (Upper intermediate). You will need to achieve a minimum of level B1 in order to qualify for German citizenship. Reaching level B2 requires up to 650 hours of study.
Level C (Proficient User)
This is the most advanced level, and is split between C1 (Advanced) and C2 (Proficient (near-native)). Level C2 is recognized by all German universities as the level of language competence required for entrance into German-language courses, although some might accept students with B2 or C1 certificates. It can take up to 1.200 hours of study to attain level C2.
German Language Exams and Certifications
There are several exams for assessing German proficiency. Some focus more on written skills, while others on the oral comprehension aspect. Let us have a look at some of the certifications:
Goethe Institut Examinations
Goethe-Institut is an organisation, part-funded by the German government, offering different exams for all levels. This institute has developed a series of exams that certify German language ability at six levels, following the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The Goethe-Institut certificate (Zertifikat) is recognised worldwide as a German language certification, and can be used in Germany for visa, residence permit and citizenship applications. Learners can take examinations at any Goethe-Institut, or with one of the institute’s partners.
The best-known and most widely recognized certification exam from this organization is the Goethe-Zertifikat C1. Providing this certificate is often a part of German university entrance qualification. However, taking this test can also help you prove your German language proficiency when applying to schools both in German and Switzerland.
The test focuses on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills and are graded from 0 to 100. to A minimum score of 60/100 is required to pass each of them. It can be taken individually or in a group setting, either online or at one of their many centers worldwide. These certificates are valid for lifetime.
Telc (The European Language Certificates) offer language certification in 10 different languages, including German. They have over 2000 test centers in 20 different countries. Their internationally-recognized certification is accepted in Germany for visa, residence permit and citizenship applications.
In Telc, there are different exam levels available, and you can choose the level according to your skill and requirement. For example, if you want to prove your German skills while applying to German higher education institutions, you will need a Telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule certificate.
TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache)
TestDaf (Test of German as a Foreign Language) is a German language certification for non-native German speakers. It is aimed at those who would like to study at, or work in, German universities, where the medium of communication and instruction is not English. All German universities and institutions of higher education recognize the TestDaF certificate. and are valid for lifetime.
The TestDaF assesses all aspects of the language skills – Listening, Reading Comprehension, Written Production, and Oral Production. Your proficiency level will be certified into four different results, giving you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses in each skill.
This test is currently being offered six times a year in around 450 test centers in 95 countries worldwide, including 170 test centers in Germany. Goethe-Institut conducts the TestDaF exam in India. There are five centers across Bangalore, New Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, and Chennai.
Students are graded levels 3 – 5, which broadly correspond to the CEFR levels B2 – C1. Achieving level 4 is sufficient to meet the entrance requirements of all universities in Germany. Some universities may even accept applicants with a lower score. If you have passed the exam, you will receive a certificate with your results five to six weeks after the examination.
Deutschtest für Zuwanderer (DTZ)
This test is meant specifically for those who wish to immigrate to Germany and want to prove their German language proficiency to get a settlement permit. This test is will help ensure that you have the necessary skills to get by in in your everyday life.
It includes listening comprehension, reading comprehension, writing, and speaking. The topics are related to covering the everyday needs of a person living in Germany. These are, for example, communications with authorities, visiting banks, looking for a job, applying to a school, etc.
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Which German Exam Should I Opt For?
The choice of German language examinations depends on the level, your objective and the school you plan to apply to. The type you choose will usually depend on the reasons why you are seeking a German language certification, for example to study or work in institutions that require German ability or to apply for a visa.
The TestDaF and the DSH exams are test for upper-intermediate and advanced users (B2-C1 level) whereas the Goethe-Institut offers 6 different exams, one for each CEFR level.
If you are not taking the exam for a specific purpose, but just to have a certificate to prove the level of German you have achieved so far, Goethe-Institut examinations could be the best option. Their certificates are recognized worldwide and are highly valued by employers and universities.
If you wish to apply for a place at a German university, you will need to sit the TestDaF or the DSH exam. Both are quite similar and cover the same range of CEFR levels (B2-C1). However, there are some differences:
Whilst you can take the TestDaF in your home country, you can only sit the DSH in Germany. Both exams have similar formats and evaluate the candidates in the 4 basic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
If you take the DSH you will also have to solve a specific grammar section, whereas grammar is not part of the TestDaF.
Another aspect in which TestDaF and DSH differ are the results. Candidates taking the TestDaF need to pass every single part of the exam in order to be successful in the overall exam. However, to fulfil the language requirements in the DSH exam it only matters if you get a pass in the total grade.
The results from TestDaF usually take longer to be issued than those from the DSH.
Since every German university has their own admissions policy, the requirements may vary. So the best thing would be to check directly with the admissions department of each of them.
How to Prepare for the Exam?
Now that you are aware of the various German language exams options available, It is important that you research about the different parts of the exam you intend to take. You should practice a variety of exercises that you will have to solve, the time you will have for each part, etc. There are many resources available online that can be valuable, including papers from previous years.
Moving to Germany can be a good opportunity for those looking for a new start in their life. With Germany ranking as one of the top countries for expats, it’s no wonder that so many people consider it to be their ideal destination. Fortunately, Entri App makes it easier than ever to make the move to Germany and settle there.
Entri collaborates with the leading German language training institute, Lanstitut, to improve your language skills. The app provides various services, including visa and immigration advice, suitable or interesting courses, advice on finding a place to settle, etc. It offers a network of international professionals you can connect with to get insider tips. Moreover, Entri can provide support for language courses and language exchange programs. They also ensure that you are following all of the essential procedures to ensure that you are properly registered and have all of the necessary papers. With Entri App, you can make your moving process to Germany stress-free.
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